Norfolk police chief apologises after officers crashed into woman's car and failed to report it

Chief Constable Paul Sanford of Norfolk Police.
Credit: Norfolk Police
Chief Constable Paul Sanford apologised for the officers' conduct in not stopping after the crash. Credit: Norfolk Police

A chief constable has apologised for a crash in which a police officer drove his patrol vehicle into a member of the public's car on a 50mph road - then left the scene without reporting it.

The collision happened between a marked Norfolk police SUV and an Audi A1 on the A146 at Barnby in Suffolk on 5 March as the officers returned to their station at the end of a shift.

When the incident was reported the following day - by the officer who was not driving - an investigation took place and the police driver was charged with careless driving and other offences.

But after experts gave evidence that the police officer at the wheel had had a "medical episode" and would have had no memory of it, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to discontinue the criminal case, Norfolk Police said.

Chief Constable Paul Sanford said: “We’re sorry for what happened in this case and the police vehicle should have stopped.

“We carried out a thorough criminal investigation, which was independently reviewed by another force. A full misconduct investigation has also been carried out. “Based on the consideration of all available evidence and after liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), we brought charges against the driver for careless driving, failing to stop and failing to report a collision."

Mr Sanford added: “Reports from two independent consultants established the driver had experienced a medical episode behind the wheel, and because of the condition is unlikely to have known what was happening at the time of the incident or have any recollection of it.

"As a result of this expert evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the criminal case.

“In respect of the misconduct investigation, having considered all the evidence, and in line with local and national policy, it concluded the driver had no case to answer."

But Norfolk Police said the second officer, the passenger, would face proceedings for having waited until the next day before reporting the collision to their superiors.

"We believe the conduct of this officer fell below the high standards we expect, and misconduct proceedings are ongoing," said Mr Sanford. "As a result, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further, until this has been finalised.

“In this case, we have taken the action we could, given the evidence we were presented with. I’m always personally disappointed and hurt when we get things wrong, but when we do, we always take action where we can.

“We deal with hundreds of calls a day and in the vast majority provide an exceptional service that I’m proud of. In this incident standards fell beneath what he would expect, and we have responded proportionately.”

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